I’ve been thinking a lot about heritage lately- mostly because of food, but a little bit because I’m aging- HA AREN’T WE ALL?! I find the older I get, the more questions I have about where I come from. In my case, unfortunately, things tip slightly more toward the side of questions than answers, but that is fully okay! That’s how it is for so many of us. My grandpa on my dad’s side was a first-gen immigrant from Northern Italy, and I have SO much information about this! Which, would be incredible, except for the fact that my dad was adopted by my grandpa Joe. While, he was the MOST amazing grandpa who absolutely shaped my life, and his life story is beyond epic, I can’t really use any of that genetic information, ya feel me? My mom’s side is super Portuguese, hailing from the Azores (Looks incredible, and also, incredibly hard to get to). I brought up to my mom the fact that we basically live for Northern Italian cooking, and growing up, I was immersed in that culture so much, and yet, we really have never delved a ton into the Portugal of it all, so to speak. Over the next few months, a goal of mine is to start really getting into this side of my background, culinarily, and otherwise. After a trip to the Austin Public Library, which is amazing BTW, I came home with a bunch of cookbooks. My goal was to find some good Portuguese ones, but I came up empty-handed. This means, I basically checked out every Mediterranean cookbook they had, as there are subtle through-lines in Italian, Portuguese, and general Mediterranean cooking. This is all to say, after said research, I was left majorly craving some Mediterranean food, and that’s one problem I can solve myself immediately. Lawd knows not all problems are that solvable!
This is a one-stop, scoop-it-all-on-your-plate-from-one-vessel kind of dish. It all begins with a base of whipped-to-perfection, garlicky, lemony, white bean hummus. Chicken that’s been marinating in a rosemary vinaigrette, then grilled gets nestled into that aforementioned hummus bed, along with some grilled pita. Then, an incredibly simple-yet-delicious salad of tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, green onions and herbs gets piled on. Kalamata olives and crumbled feta are the finishing tough to bring a briny, salty vibe that is very much welcome here. Let’s start with that marinade, shall we?
In a glass measuring cup, mix together your red wine vinegar, garlic clove, sriracha, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, EVOO, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Season your skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs with salt, pepper, granulated garlic, and za’atar. Rub into each side of chicken and add thighs to a large zip-top bag, along with your marinade, and refrigerate at least 1 hour, but up to 24.
While the chicken is getting all delicious, make your hummus. In a food processor, combine your drained can of white beans with your tahini, lemon zest + juice, red wine vinegar, garlic, za’atar, and turn food processor on. Slowly, with the machine running, pour in your extra virgin olive oil. Allow the machine to run for 3 minutes. This sounds like a long time, but it’s seriously worth it for a perfectly smooth hummus. Taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper to taste. Run the machine for 30 seconds more. Cover and chill until ready to plate.
This salad couldn’t be easier, and is a riff on the green salad my mom, grandma, and aunts made growing up, and us grown up kids seem to make for every get-together. I’ll be real: It’s a total eye-baller. Halve your cherry tomatoes, and add to a large bowl with a sprinkling of salt to get the tomatoes to release some of their juices. Peel and seed half of a cucumber, and chop into roughly 1” pieces. Cut an avocado into roughly 1” chunks as well, and add to your bowl, along with a good handful of freshly chopped parsley. In a small glass measuring cup, whisk together your red wine vinegar, olive oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Wait to dress the salad until you’re ready to plate.
Heat your grill to 375, and grill your chicken thighs over direct heat for about 9 minutes per side until internal temperature reaches 165. Cover, and allow to rest prior to serving.
To assemble, pile (or swoop) your hummus onto a platter, and line your chicken thighs along one side of the hummus, along with the pita. Spoon your salad down the center of the platter, and top with chopped kalamata olives, and crumbled feta.
This is one of those meals where you walk away feeling better after you’ve eaten, but also, like you really treated yourself. An easy, all-in-one easy enough for a weeknight, but good enough for company.
Super Creamy, Super Easy Garlicky White Bean Hummus With Mediterranean-Style Salad + Grilled Chicken Thighs
For the Hummus
1 15 oz can cannelini beans, or great northern beans
1 cup tahini
1 grated, plus 1 smashed garlic clove
Zest + juice of 1 lemon
3 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp za’atar
3/4 cup good olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
For the Chicken Marinade
2 tbs freshly chopped rosemary
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp sriracha
1 grated garlic clove
To Season Chicken
Generous sprinkling salt and pepper
2 tbs za’atar
1 tsp granulated garlic
For the Salad
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Half 1 cucumber, seeded, peeled, and cut into 1” chunks
1 avocado, cut into 1” chunks
3 green onions, sliced on the bias
Handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped
For the vinaigrette
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c kalamata olives, halved
3/4 c crumbled feta
Extra vinaigrette, for drizzling